Byron Vinicio Santos de Leon arrived at Casa Aleluya in January 1996, not yet 11 years old. As he matured, so too did his love for God and his desire to become a doctor. He became fluent in English and served as translator for countless visitors and teams, creating relationships that ran deep and affected many. His life ended suddenly, unexpectedly in his sleep after suffering from two seizures and before we were able to diagnose the problem.
Here below you will read what his friends, his family at Casa Aleluya had to say about Byron and his life.
Byron was always a person who demonstrated helpfulness in every way, helping anyone in need with all he had. He had a great interest in medicine; his dream was to become a doctor. He always walked in the path of God. Byron was a person that you would see smiling every day, was hardly ever mad. He had friends that supported him just as he unselfishly supported others. Byron was a responsible person and had faith in our Heavenly Father. He had great affection for Pastor David, Mama Regina, Papi and Mami.
I hope that our God has him in his sacred glory and can give strength to his family, especially to his mother who took care of him since he was a child, to his brothers Victor Hugo, Edy and rest of the family. Our prayers will be lifted to heaven in honor of a good young man who demonstrated to be someone who had a strong interest in God and in all of the Casa Aleluya Kids. For all of us, he’ll always be our brother.
Pablo Antonio Argueta Gonzalez
Byron, you were a beautiful person for God and for me. I want you to know that God will be with you always, taking care of you as he did when you were here on earth. God is with you in eternity. You will be always on my heart and mind; you were like a brother to me and always will be. May the Lord bless your family and brothers, they loved you and they always will. Miriam, I want you to know that your son was a good man; he supported me and helped me in every way.
Lorena De León
Hi, my dear friend. All I wish is that you are doing well in the presence of our Lord; He can help you in all the things you longed for. Thank you for your friendship and for giving me the strength to go on. You were a person who helped others and worked hard toward your goals. You did not finish your goals, but God’s will was to take you for a purpose and now all we can do is to reconcile with God and to trust that with Him everything is possible. May the Lord keep you in His Glory today and always my dear friend and brother in Christ.
You were a very special person for me and especially for God; we all learned many good things from you. I asked my Lord that you can rest in peace and that He can be with you forever. Thank you for your tremendous friendship, I will miss you a lot and remember you always. I pray to my God to protect your family from any harm. God be with you in His glory today and forever. I love you in Christ’s Love.
You were a wonderful person sharing your friendship, always helping others without asking anything in return. I’ll always remember you in my heart. I have your saying in my mind “never say you can’t if you don’t try it”. I know now that you are with our heavenly Father.
The Dream: I had a dream yesterday. I dreamt of a beautiful place where all the earthly knots end, and the soul blends with God. There, where the spirit is drained and the being dies, is another being that sprouts. It is the end from this transitory existence to which our desire adheres to the immortal matter, and the glory form changes but never dies.
Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Psalm 39:4
Your friend and sister in Christ. Gladys Godoy
The days go by, you never imagine when the day will come when you will meet our Heavenly Father. Now that you are in heaven, I thank my God to have known you, to know and understand that the most important and valuable thing we have on this earth is to be appreciated by others. You were and are a great example for my life. I remember you once said, “on top of a black cloud we’ll find a blue sky”. How I wish to share another day with you; even though you’re not here, I’ll see you in heaven. I want to show you what I have achieved, what hurts the most is not being able to live close to you. I will see you in heaven.
Byron, you were a very special person and we’ll remember you like that. More than a brother, you were a friend. Even with our sorrow we are satisfied that you are in a better place. We know that one day we’ll meet and be together always.
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. Hosea 6:1.
Today God let us see the light of a new day. There is grief in our hearts. We can feel the absence of a brother in our family. Your memories will always be with us, you were a good example to others.
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. Ecclesiastes 7:1
Alex & Sara Valenzuela
Thank you for your friendship and respect. You are and will be an honest and sincere person. Your life will be a great example for me. So long Byron.
Byron, I just want to thank you for being a good friend and for always giving me words of encouragement and faith. Thank you for being a good person.
God sent you so you would one day bring joy to our lives but especially to your mother’s. God took you back home to heaven and we feel that He took someone very fond to us. You were a very dynamic young man and you liked to radiate your happiness. We are going to miss you, but we know you are in heaven and that you are going to watch over us from God’s side. Byron, you taught me many good things, especially not to get mad for not having everything I want, but to appreciate what I have. With your smile you brightened my days. I will keep you in my heart always. I will always remember your smile. You will be in my mind and in my heart every moment; we lived as a family here in Casa Aleluya and in school. I will miss you a lot and I will see you in heaven. I won’t say good bye but see you soon.
Your sister in Christ and friend, Analy Rodas
Hi, Byron’s mother. My name is Arnulfo. I was your son’s peer and I can tell you that he is a man who has left us with an enormous example. I remember he always read the Bible and prayed; that is why I have no doubt he is in the presence of our Creator. I give thanks to God for showing us you are a special mother, because you love your children very much, you worry for them and, most importantly, that before they were born you commended them into God’s hands. While I spent time with your son in the dorm, I remember we laughed a lot and spent good times. What I noticed was that he was glad to remember you and sometimes he even called you to see how where you doing. I don’t know what you feel in this moment, but I tell you that Byron’s body is here but his precious soul is in the presence of God and that he has already won the precious goal that is to be forever in heaven. I know these words are not deep, but I write them with love knowing you and I will see him again in heaven.
Arnulfo Palacios Roca
I know it is hard to lose a son especially when he is a good person. Byron thought not just of himself but in the midst of his troubles thought how to help the others. He had big dreams he wanted to reach. I have no doubt that in this moment he is with Our Heavenly Father and that soon we will join him to say thanks to him for the example he made in our lives. He was a nice person, wholesome, smart and suddenly his life ended. I was not a good friend of his, but to hear of his death was a strong shock to my life; it was unbelievable. I could not believe that something bad had happened for he was so young, had a great future and it hurts me that he is no longer here. I did not talk to him much, but I can tell he was a very good friend, a sincere friend and brother. Byron, I will keep you in my heart and what you did in me will never change; you changed my life to be a better person and I can only say thanks. I will see you soon my friend and brother, thanks. I hope these words can comfort your mother and father. There are no words to tell you how wonderful your life was. We will see you soon.
Your brother, Roberto Trujillo.
Christ awaits you. Byron you were a good friend to me. You corrected me in the moments it was necessary and when I needed it. You left me with great memories; you were a very sincere person. Thanks for everything my brother in Christ. Remember the angels are awaiting you in Heaven.
Aroldo Argueta Ramírez
Be with God in His sacred will. You will always be remembered as a young man full of hope and mainly had a big heart for everyone. We were always good friends. Even though you are no longer here, you will be in my thoughts and I will remember how you were, you always liked to help others. God bless your family, give them the love they need, may God be with you today and forever. Miriam, you had a son who was chosen for the glory of God.
Claudia Maribel Monterroso Chacon
Byron, my special friend. Byron you were a very special person, you will be in my heart because you were a very special friend. Although you are gone from this world, I know you are with God. Byron you were a good friend and I will miss you because you were a cool guy and I will remember the good moments we spent together. Byron, God bless you. God bless your brothers and mother, because I know your mother would be proud of all that you were, because you were a good son and a good example to others. God bless you. I will miss you.
I remember Byron, as many probably do, as our translator of the Thursday night services. I did not spend much time with him though I could see the love of God radiating from him. A few things that the Lord asks of us to do are to spread His word to bring others to Him and to just strictly be an example for all to see. Byron did these things so well. I will miss him even though I did not know him well. I know that I will never ever forget the smile on his face that I always saw. May god bless your family while they are still here on earth. I will see you soon in the presence of our Lord.
Jennifer Ingram - Spring Creek Church, Montevallo, AL
My first remembrance of Byron was when Pastor Dave asked me to do devotions for his dorm. I had seen Byron around but we’d never officially met. Byron interpreted each and every time and he always had a word of encouragement for me. Very quickly I realized there was something special about Byron. Was it his tremendous people skills or his willingness to always serve? Or was it his genuine love for God or just his genuine love for mankind? I think all of the above.
A short but full life he lived indeed
Putting others first … tending to their needs
Now missed by many his memories remain
Life must go on … but I’ll never be the same.
Thanks Byron...for being you.
Lewis Thomas - When Will We Cry, Inc., Tennessee
As I sit here and read of the love and fond memories people have of you, tears are streaming down my face. Although I didn't know you like so many had the privilege, I knew your heart because you lived with it exposed for all to see — your absolute love for Christ. I too have something you said forever etched in my memory, "I have all that I need and what I don't have I don't need." Thank you for your brief but eternal impact in my life.
Byron is a dear friend of mine. We shared many joys, and many struggles. I will always cherish our time in March 2004, when I watched Buen Pastor. I got to see first hand the servant heart of this brother. It was a testimony to me, and an encouragement to me. He encouraged me to live life to its fullest everyday, and to thank God for all things. I was blessed by God through this young man. I miss him.
Aaron Osborn - New Life Church Glenside, PA
Byron encouraged me in so many ways in my Christian walk. We've been friends for over 4 years, but we got to spend a lot of time together in March 2004 and I got to really know his heart. He was so focused on Christ and striving to be just like Him. We had many conversations about God - what He's doing in our lives and what He's shown us for our futures. Byron and I were both called to medical missions to Guatemala. He would always joke that he was going to be the doctor and I was going to be his nurse in some part of the jungles of Guatemala.
Our relationship was so different from any I've ever had. We loved each other through our common love for Christ. He cared for others way more than for himself. He was so selfless and looked out for other’s needs over his own. Through Byron's life, God showed me that I shouldn't let my physical condition determine my outlook on life. Even though Byron didn't always feel good physically, you could never tell because he was always radiating this joy that only comes from a consuming desire for the Lord. When I looked in his face, I saw an unconditional love and a joy like I've never seen in anyone. He was so focused on Christ that everything else faded.
Through his death, God showed me that I need to live every day like it's my last, and not take my next breath for granted. God’s given me this short time on earth to accomplish His will and I’m going to do all I can. Even though Byron didn’t know it was his last day, he was prepared to meet the Lord. I want to be ready. Thank you Byron for your fire and your consuming love for the Lord. I miss you but I’m looking forward to the day I’ll see you standing next to the man you modeled your life after — my Savior.
Lauren Pugh - Elkmont Baptist, Alabama
It is Nov. 12, 2004 and I have just learned of Byron's heavenly reunion with his Maker. I will have to say that I am stunned and my heart is heavy, but I know that Byron is enjoying the presence of His Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I have known Byron over a period of years (I even helped supervise his dorm for a short time) and found him to be an intelligent young man and one who radiated his happiness and love for God. I last saw him in June, 2004 and I thought that he seemed so happy and excited about his schooling and about his life in general. That is the way that I want to remember him — laughing, smiling and glad to see his friends. May you enjoy your eternal peace in the presence of the Lord. You have made the world a better place through your life and ability to serve. I pray that God will be especially near Bryon's mother, Victor Hugo, Eddy, Mami, Papi, and all of his brothers and sisters and the staff at Casa Aleluya. Byron, you are the newest star in the crown of heaven.
Dan Ross - Mission Fiesta, Ohio
I am writing this e-mail with tears in my eyes and a very heavy heart. I first met Byron in the summer of 2003 when we came on our first mission trip to Casa Aleluya. I recall his sweet spirit, continual smile, and his love of the Lord.
However, it was only four months ago that I got to know Byron much better. We came back again for a second mission trip to Casa. He served as our interpreter for our outreach activities to the church community in Amatitlan. As we rode the bus there each day, we talked of his desire to become a doctor. He was so full of life and eagerly answered all of our questions and about his life and his questions about the USA. He patiently translated for us during our church services and during the door to door distribution of service information.
Byron, we are coming back, God willing, to help build the church next summer in Amatitlan. I was so forward looking to our time together as I knew that you would once again help us. But God had different plans for you. You are in His presence right now. I miss you, but know that you are Home.
Lou Bender - Gateway Community Church, Virginia
You were the most Christ filled man that I have ever met. You were so kind to Beka and me when we came on our mission trip. I will never forget the laughs we had together. I will miss you when I come back to Guatemala, but I know that you are in a better place. Thank you for restoring my faith in God. I can not wait to see you again and for the laughs we will have when we are together with the lord.
Ruth deButts - Gateway Community Church, Virginia
When I heard about Byron, my heart was gripped with pain. He was so alive, living fruitfully for the Lord. I'll never forget his kindness or his joy, which was so evident by his smile. I imagine the joy he must be experiencing now as he looks into the glorious face of our Savior! The verse, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ," comes to mind as I remember Byron. I praise God for the opportunity to have known him. I pray that his life and death would continue to be a testimony and a challenge for us to live as worship to our King. To God be the glory!
"Trust in the Lord always, for in God the Lord we have an everlasting rock."
Jena Nelson - Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN
I remember when Byron first arrived at Casa Aleluya in January of 1996. He was placed in my dorm, and I was impressed at how he comforted his two younger brothers as they made the transition to living at Casa Aleluya. I thought he was special then, but I was even more amazed, when I returned in January 2004. Byron and I were buying bread at a local bakery, and the owner of the bakery was mourning the loss of a family member. Byron put his arm around him and prayed with him, like a family member. Byron was a true soldier of Christ. It is not often that I learn something from an 18 year old, but that day I did.
Edward Cullen - Boston, MA
Byron was my very dear friend! Through his life, Byron touched the lives and hearts of so many! I am extremely proud and honored to have been able to call him my Friend. I am so privileged to have been able to serve with him in Huehuetenango on my first mission trip to Guatemala in January of 2004. I also got to visit with him this past summer and catch up. Byron made a difference in my life and I love and appreciate him for his great heart and over zealousness for his Lord & Savior Jesus Christ! He will be extremely missed!
Lea McIntyre - Buckner Intern, Texas
I was enamored with Byron when I met him in June 2004. I was so impressed by his translation skills, I thought for sure that someone had hired him to be a translator for the worship service. I made it a point to get my photo taken with him before I left and I cherish that photo. There was just something special about Byron that drew me to him. Although he was so young, he was so polite and seemed to be so mature for his age. Right before boarding the bus to leave Casa Aleluya, I told Byron that I could not wait to hear what happens to him because he was such a talented, special person.
I just knew to expect great things from him, and the thought of finding out how his future would unfold was so exciting to me. The people of Guatemala need more people like him — what a joy to see him raised by Mike and Dottie at Casa Aleluya. However, when I received an email from a friend telling me about Byron in October, I fell to my knees. That is not quite what I was expecting to hear. He was too young to die! He had such a bright future! But now he is with our heavenly father and the rest of us can only aspire to be half the man he was. I am so grateful to have met him. Although I only knew him for one short week, he touched my life forever. I can't wait to see you again, Byron
Kelli Boltz - The Woodlands, Texas